Tarp Tent

One item you should carry in every vehicle and go-bag is a tarp or two with some rope or 550 cord. These are items that can build you a shelter at any time and can protect you from the elements. Depending on the weather, you have a few options.

Cold weather can be challenging and can even kill you fairly easy. The fastest way to die in cold weather is by getting wet. Even just being moist from sweat is enough to kill you in a few hours. Staying alive means staying dry!

To stay warm in cold weather, keep the structure small. The smaller the tent the easier it is to warm yourself. Don’t try and use it like a blanket because you need that air buffer between you and the tarp. You can do a simple “A frame” made using a rope strung between trees with the tent draped over the rope. Again, you need it to be as small as possible in cold weather. The sides can be held down with rocks, or the soil can be pulled back. Then bury the ends of the tarp.

Filing the floor of your tent with pine branches, leaves, and pine needles can keep you even warmer. Laying directly on the soil is a sure way to get hypothermia (even in warm weather). If you have a second tarp, use it as a floor. Now you can even use moss for bedding under the tarp and pin down the edges just like you did with the sides of your tent. This helps to keep bugs and snakes out of your tent.


Summer tenting will be setup differently. Heat can make sleeping uncomfortable, so having a smaller tent will make the heat worst. This is why I like a taller tent to let air flow through and keep the heat at the top of the tent away from you.

The best way to build this tent is to tie a rope higher in the tree like a clothes line. The front of the tent should hang over by 2 feet or so to let rain run off. The back of the tent should run down and be fastened to the floor by rocks or a trench with the ends buried into the soil.  Now tie some cordage to the front grommets and attach a long stick across the front. Now tie some long rope to the stick and stake it into the ground pulling tight enough to keep it in place.

If it’s windy, just use a pole in place of the stringer rope. This will keep the tents tighter and less flapping in the wind. Better tarps will also make for a stronger shelter. I just keep the cheap $5.00 8’x10’ tarps, but you could use the higher quality ones that could also be used for dragging if you need.

Variations of each of these tents exist, and making the best out of your situations is really what you need to do. The worst tarp tent you could build is better than no tent at all, so this is just another chance at life during an emergency.

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